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Access (to be) granted - Paulwell confident of big technology gains within next two years

Published:Sunday | October 19, 2014 | 12:00 AM
Technology Minister Phillip Paulwell (seated) browses the Internet on one of several computers installed at the newly upgraded Liguanea Post Office Internet café in St Andrew, while LIME chief executive officer Garfield Sinclair (left) and postmaster general Michael Gentles look on. - File

Andrew Harris, Sunday Gleaner Writer

Minister of Science, Energy, and Technology Phillip Paulwell is expressing confidence that Jamaica will begin to see immense benefits from the investment in technology within the next two years.

"The partnership with ... other entities to provide the access to the technology has been a good one as there will be great results from the initiative within the next two years," Paulwell told The Sunday Gleaner.

According to Paulwell, with the level of investment now being done, Jamaicans should be more productive in their use of technology and more innovative.

"More than $12 billion has been invested in the Universal Service Fund, which has been working hard to achieve getting more Jamaicans to access technology, plus, more and more Jamaicans are having smartphones," noted Paulwell.

There are 190 hot spots installed by the Universal Service Fund across the island, where people can get access to the technology. These include community centres, churches, and post offices, which have been equipped with computers and Internet access.

Paulwell said the Universal Service Fund provides the resources needed to start small businesses, leads the path to E-learning, and has installed more than 100 computer labs in primary and secondary schools.

The technology minister, who left Jamaica last Thursday to attend the International Telecommunications Union Plenipotentiary in South Korea, argued that the provision of 30,000 tablets in schools was one way of moving the process of technological development to the next level.

"Where else in the world do you see everybody in a public school, both students and parents, having their own tablets? This is the way forward to improve how we use the technology and encourage the development from as early as three years old. The students would be getting their required texts on the devices.

"I am even thinking that we may have to extend it to the tertiary level," added Paulwell.

He said the tablets-in-school programme is one way of encouraging developers to stay in the country as the mobile and software application market is a global one.

"Right here, we are creating the environment for developers to stay in Jamaica and use their talents to become entrepreneurs. These are the reasons why we introduced the start-up Jamaica funding. These youngsters can have access to the funding and resources to start their own businesses."